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How to Use Apostrophes

This tutorial helps students correctly use apostrophes. For more information, visit The Learning Center at College of the Canyons at http://www.canyons.edu/offices/TLC/Pages/default.aspx.

Erin Delaney

on 13 February 2015

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Transcript of How to Use Apostrophes

How to Use Apostrophes
Functions of the Apostrophe
1. To create a contraction
2. To show possession
Use an Apostrophe to Create a Contraction
In English, we sometimes combine two words to create a contraction. These are words like:
"can't" (can + not)
"we're" (we + are)

When we combine the two words, we drop letters. For example, in the word "can't," we drop the letter "o" in "not." This makes the word a

We use an
to replace the letter we lost.
Use an Apostrophe to Show Possession
Apostrophes also allow us to show possession; in other words, they show who something belongs to.

Let's look at some examples:

giraffe's baby
was over six feet tall.
(The baby belongs to the giraffe.)

leopard's spots
are shaped like rosettes.
(The spots belong to the leopard.)
When do I use 's?
When do I use s'?
Common Apostrophe Mistakes
Need more help?
Use 's when the possessor is singular.

For example:
chicken's egg
will hatch tomorrow.

In this sentence, the chicken is singular, so we use 's.
But what if the word ends in s?
If the word ends in s but is singular (like Charles), add 's.

For example:
I'm excited to meet
Charles's baby
at the party next week.
Use s' when the possessor is plural.

For example:
doctors' offices
were burglarized over the weekend.

In this sentence, "doctors" is plural, so we use s'.
1. Simple plural
If a sentence uses a plural that is not possessive (a simple plural), do not use an apostrophe.
were delicious!
were delicious!
2. Nouns ending in y
To make a noun that ends in y plural, change the -y to -ies.
I will visit three
to decide where I want to transfer.
I will visit three
to decide where I want to transfer.
3. Its and it's
Its=belongs to it (this is irregular)
Example: The penguin feeds
its chick
It's=it is
going to be a long walk to the hotel.
Visit The Learning Center to meet with a tutor, take a workshop, or pick up a handout.

Visit our website at:
Full transcript